SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/This Weeks News

Jeep’s deal signals growing VOD interest

The advertising community is starting to test video-on-demand metrics more frequently, and it is starting to put some serious money into figuring out whether it’s a viable ad platform.

Skateboard pro Mike V. offers tips on
Sportskool backed by a Jeep Patriot.

The most recent evidence is a deal that DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep signed with Rainbow’s VOD sports instruction channel, Sportskool, that network officials say is worth near mid-six figures.

The deal, which was cut with Jeep’s planning agency, PHD Detroit, will see Jeep sponsor four months of action sports programs on the VOD channel, including BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing and streetball. The customized campaign deal went into effect this month and ends in June.

“This is a real commitment from Jeep for our video-on-demand environment,” said Dan Ronayne, general manager of Sportskool. “This also presents an opportunity for us to integrate a broad ad plan beyond 30-second preroll spots.”

The Jeep deal, which involves both 15-second preroll spots before the instructional video and brand integration within the video, marks the first big sponsorship deal signed for the VOD channel.

Jeep will sponsor graphics and pop-ups, and its Patriot vehicle will be integrated into four short films about skateboarder Mike Vallely, known as Mike V.

Sportskool said it is two months away from signing a similar deal with a beverage brand for its team sports instruction videos.

“The Jeep deal really points to the direction we’re headed with this,” Ronayne said. “We headed to a point where we create a business driven by ad sales and sponsorships.”

Sportskool executives are convinced that deals such as this will become more commonplace, with advertisers changing their perception in the last six to eight months.

“The numbers, obviously, are much smaller than broadcast,” Ronayne said. “But the quality of our viewers — especially given the media market’s fragmentation — means that on-demand is a real value for advertisers.”

The action sports buy makes sense for Jeep, which is targeting the 18-24-year-old demographic for its Jeep Patriot, which costs about $15,000. Action sports have proved to be among the highest-rated shows on Sportskool, in part because it hits a younger, more technically literate viewer.

“They came to us with an interest in action sports programming,” said Phil Summers, vice president of integrated sales and marketing for Sportskool.

Jeep rolled back some of the more open sales pitches, such as spots detailing the advantages of its vehicles. Instead, it wanted to integrate its brand in spots that talked about the culture of action sports.

“They wanted to get their point across without hitting someone over the head with it,” Ronayne said.

Sportskool launched in 2004. It’s currently in 24 million homes, thanks to carriage deals with most of the country’s biggest cable operators — Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cablevision, Insight and Mediacom.

It offers instructional videos starring some of the biggest stars in sports, such as Tony Gwynn on baseball, Bill Walton on basketball and Bode Miller on skiing.

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